Training manual - Foreword

The Institute for Health and Consumer Protection of the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission and the Food Safety Programme within the European Centre for Environment and Health - Rome Division (ECR) of the World Health Organization have jointly organised a series of training courses on "The Analysis of Food Samples for the Presence of Genetically Modified Organisms".

The Joint Research Centre gives scientific and technical support to EU policies by collaborating with EC Directorates General and by interacting with European Institutions, Organizations and Industries through networking with Member State laboratories. The overall task of the WHO's ECR is to provide support in a complete and coordinated way to both decision-makers and to European citizens in the environmental health field. These training courses are part of collaboration between both Institutions to promote food safety related issues in the WHO European Region, within and beyond actual EU borders, taking into special consideration EU Accession Countries, as well as Central and Eastern Countries with transitional economies.

The scope of the training courses is to assist staff of control laboratories to become accustomed with molecular detection techniques, and to help them adapt their facilities and work programmes to include analyses which comply with worldwide regulatory acts in the field of biotechnology. The courses are intended to teach molecular detection techniques to laboratory personnel with a good level of analytical knowledge, but with no or little expertise in this specific domain.

The Joint Research Centre has been committed to providing training in detection and quantification of GMOs and, besides the training courses, it offers, and has offered in the past, individual training for specific needs. Training in this topic has been frequently requested due to its importance according to the increasing need to comply with the current and developing European legislative framework.

Over the years, the Molecular Biology and Genomics Unit has developed a profound knowledge of the different aspects related to GMO detection and quantification, and has designed, adapted or validated advanced methods for their detection and quantification.

Knowledge of these techniques has been transferred to collaborating laboratories through publications, collaborative projects, individual training or specific courses. Technical details have also been provided to trainees as oral presentations or brief written outlines. Aware of the need for a permanent source of information, the Molecular Biology and Genomics Unit staff developed this manual, which describes some of the techniques used in our laboratory.

The following areas are covered throughout the courses;
- DNA extraction from raw and processed materials
- Screening of foodstuffs for the presence of GMOs by simple Polymerase Chain Reaction and by nested Polymerase Chain Reaction
- Quantification of GMOs in ingredients by real-time Polymerase Chain Reaction
- Quantification of GMOs in ingredients by the Enzyme-Linked ImmunoSorbent Assay

This Manual has been prepared at the Joint Research Centre, Institute for Health and Consumer Protection (IHCP) as background information for course participants and is intended to provide the theoretical and practical information on methodologies and protocols currently used. The subject matter covers a wide variety of techniques for GMOs detection, identification, characterisation, and quantification, and includes theoretical information considered important background information for anyone wishing to enter and work in the field of GMO detection.

It is our hope that the structure and content of this manual will help course participants (as well as other users) in the diffusion and dissemination of the acquired skills in the context of the different working environments according to needs.

In no way was there an attempt to compete with information available in textbooks or journals. This manual aims to complement existing information in the specialised literature. In addition, compiling this information as loose sheets in a binder makes it easy to update the techniques, thereby reducing the need for frequent revised editions.

To facilitate diffusion and consultation, this publication is also available online at:

JRC staff members who participated in the preparation of this manual were supervised by Maddalena Querci and are mentioned in the Table of Content according to their contribution.

A special recognition and acknowledgment is hereby also given to all Molecular Biology and Genomics Unit personnel who, even not individually mentioned, contributed to the successful preparation of the manual.

Thanks are also extended to Sabrina Miglierina, Elisabeth Dilger, Manuela Zingales, Stephen Langrell and Steven Price for their support and collaboration for the revision of this manual.

Maddalena Querci
Course co-ordinator





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